Decode Your Financial Aid Award Letter

financial aid award letter

You know you’re going to college, you’ve filed your FAFSA, applied to colleges and universities, and now you’re getting financial aid award letters.

Since there is no standard format that colleges have to follow, it can be difficult to decode your award letters. Despite how varied these letters initially appear, they all contain the same information. It’s just a matter of knowing what to look for and what it all means.

These resources provide clear and concise information in a variety of presentations that will help you understand different aspects of your award letters.

  1. 12 Important Terms to Help You Decipher a College Financial Aid Award Letter: As you read through your award letter or talk with a financial aid advisor, you’ll see and hear lingo that may be unfamiliar to you. This article explains what the main acronyms stand for and what they mean on your award letter.
  2. Understanding Your College Financial Aid Award Letter: The Boston Globe created a sample award letter that literally highlights everything you need to know about the amounts on your financial aid award letter.
  3. After the FAFSA: Comparing Financial Aid Award Letters and Accepting Aid: This quick animated video (below and in link) breaks down the different types of aid offered in award letters. You’ll also learn how to calculate what you will owe and compare that between several award letters.

  4. 10 Rules For Decoding College Financial Aid Award Letters: She sites financial aid statistics and busts common award letter myths in an easy to understand, practical way.
  5. Infographic: Map Out Your Financial Aid Award Letter: Here you’ll find an extremely thorough infographic that is constructed like an award letter. You can click through the infographic for more information and links to other tool and tips as well.
  6. 6 Tips for Deciphering a Financial Aid Letter: This list provides excellent advice on what to look for in your financial aid letter, and links to helpful tools for you to use to calculate your awards and expenses.

Now that you’ve looked through the articles, infographics, and videos here, you’re practically an expert on reading financial aid award letters. Explore the rest of YesCollege to prepare for the other aspects of college that you’ll encounter.

About the Author Scott Hawksworth

Scott Hawksworth is's founder and podcast host. His goal with the show is to not only help prospective students gain first hand knowledge about the degree programs they'll enroll in, but to also highlight the careers of fantastic professionals in higher ed. Scott has a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from The Ohio State University.